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5 tips for preventing a cold this winter

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From hygiene hacks to lifestyle tweaks, a range of things can help reduce your risk of catching a cold. Here’s what to do this season.

Can you prevent the common cold?

Keen to put a plan in place to increase your odds of remaining sneeze-free? Good idea. Cold symptoms can hang around for up to two weeks. And when you consider that adults typically get between two and four colds a year, that can add up to a lot of weeks!

While it’s not possible to completely prevent the spread of cold-causing viruses,  there are a number of things you can do, and commit to, to help improve your resistance to the common cold.

1. Be vigilant about washing your hands

One of the main ways colds spread is when you touch something that’s contaminated with the cold-causing virus and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth. 

So, as well as avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands, frequently washing your hands properly is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of catching a cold. 

2. Get enough sleep

Being sleep deprived suppresses the immune system. In fact, research has demonstrated a direct link between a lack of sleep and an increased risk of catching a cold. 

When you get less than six hours of sleep a night, you’re four times more likely to get sick if you’re exposed to a cold virus, compared to having seven or more hours shut-eye.

Need some help getting a good night’s sleep? Sign up to our 4-week Restore your sleep action plan.

3. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables

A well-balanced, nutritious diet is key for good health, but recent research has specifically linked higher intakes of fruit and vegetables to improvements in immune function. 

Aim for five serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit a day, particularly those that are rich in flavonoids, which may help to reduce the risk of catching a cold.

4. Do some regular exercise

Thanks to its effect on the immune system, staying active can reduce the frequency of upper respiratory tract infections like the common cold by just over 40%.

Plus, when you exercise regularly, you’re likely to experience less severe cold symptoms if you do come down with something.

5. Meditate more

According to a 2018 study, people who make a habit of meditating enjoy a level of protection against the common cold. They’re likely to stress less, too, which on its own can help support a healthy immune system.

Not sure where to start? Read a beginner’s guide to meditation or watch ‘meditation made easy’.

Natural Health Simplified podcast

Can nutrients promote immune system health? Listen in as author Lesley Braun and her team at Blackmores Institute provide simple science-based strategies to help you live a healthier life.